Since I was a young girl, I’ve always had an interest in and affinity for helping people. As a young adult, I landed on fundraising as a career.
Though it wasn’t direct service, my job was to raise money at non-profit organizations, and so I was helping to sustain the important work of causes I cared about. I felt proud of the work I did, and I was good at it, but I always had a nagging feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.
It took me a long time, but I finally figured out that I’m meant to be a social worker. So here I am, aged 56, in my second of four years of a Masters of Social Work (MSW) program at Catholic University.
Let me tell you, being a student at my age is not easy.
While it’s rewarding to be engaged in learning something new, the weekly tests, papers, presentations, and group projects, not to mention the hundreds of pages of textbook reading, are no picnic.
As far as I’m concerned, the absolute best and most important part of the MSW program is the required “field placement.” Each student has an internship at an agency during which they get to put into practice what they’re learning in the classroom. My fellow students are interning at hospitals, schools, and clinics.
I really hit the jackpot when I got placed at Iona Senior Services!
My internship is in the Consultation, Care management, and Counseling Department, which serves older adults and caregivers. My colleagues are social workers who do case management (helping older adults to age-in-place) and counseling, and they are the best, most committed colleagues I’ve ever worked with.
My supervisor at Iona helps me manage my case load of clients (who I go out to see on home visits) and the bi-monthly support group for older adults who are visually impaired that I co-facilitate. I’ve heard about the importance of supervision in social work, but didn’t really understand until now just how integral and critical supervision is to the practice. As I’m developing my professional social worker self, I find her oversight and support to be invaluable.
One thing I didn’t expect was how much of a learning environment I would find at Iona.
There are ample opportunities for me to learn from and with my colleagues every day, and amazingly, my colleagues share and learn from one another as well.
Besides the incredible staff, I find myself constantly inspired by the older adults I work with and the volunteers, program participants, and others who contribute to Iona in so many ways. Iona is such a heart-centered place to work. Everyone cares so much about the work, the clients, and about each other.
I’ve worked in a lot of non-profits, so I am used to a work environment that is cause-oriented, but Iona is like no other place I’ve worked. There’s a special sauce here and it makes me smile every day I get to come to work.
Iona has a wonderful program called “Take Charge/Age Well Academy,” that provides educational opportunities for active older adults and touches on topics like downsizing, healthy aging, or second careers.
With my bold move to leave non-profit fundraising and begin this new career, I like to think that taking charge and aging well is exactly what I am doing. And, my experience here confirms for me that it was the right thing to do.
Remember, it’s never too late!
By Betsy Reinstein Dewey
Betsy Reinstein Dewey is a social work intern in Consultation, Case Management, and Counseling Services at Iona. She is currently working toward a Masters of Social Work degree at Catholic University and is excited to pursue a career in clinical social work.